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British scientist develops technology able to deliver drugs directly into the brain

Published on 27/02/19 at 09:35am
Image Credit: Passion Productions https://www.ft.com/content/866a3698-38f4-11e9-b856-5404d3811663

A British scientist has developed innovative technology that is able to deliver drugs deep into the brain in order to treat neurological diseases including Parkinson’s and cancer.

The tech, designed by Steven Gill, professor of neurosurgery at the University of Bristol, has shown encouraging results in its first controlled clinical trial.

The convection enhanced delivery system enables drugs to bypass the blood brain barrier. The medical device is manufactured by British engineering firm Renishaw.

The device uses four tubes – fitted through robot assisted surgery – to deliver drugs directly into the putamen, a structure at the base of the forebrain which plays an important role in Parkinson’s.  

“This trial has shown that we can safely and repeatedly infuse drugs directly into patient’s brains over months or years,” said Prof Gill. “This is a significant breakthrough in our ability to treat neurological conditions . . . because most drugs that might work cannot cross from the blood stream into the brain due to a natural protective barrier.”

The trial saw 35 patients with Parkinson’s at Bristol’s Southmead hospital test the technology with the experimental drug GDNF, which promotes the growth of brain cells.

The findings were published in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease. Participants showed some clinical improvement, including easier movement in their limbs, compared to those who received a placebo solution through the device.

Scans also showed regrowth of brain cells in patients treated with the drug. “Now we need to move towards a definitive clinical trial using higher doses,” Professor Gill said.

Louis Goss

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